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Crop achilles' heel costs farmers 10 percent of potential yield

January 23, 2017

Scientists assumed leaves at the top of a plant would be the best at turning higher levels of light into carbohydrates--through the process of photosynthesis -- while the lower shaded leaves would be better at processing the low light levels that penetrate the plant's canopy of leaves. Turns out that in two of our most productive crops, these shaded leaves are less efficient than the top leaves, limiting yield.


January 23, 2017


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First Report of a New Crop Virus in North America

April 12, 2015

The switchgrass exhibited mosaic symptoms—splotchy, discolored leaves—characteristic of a viral infection, yet tested negative for known infections. Deep sequencing, a new technology, revealed the plants were infected with a new virus in the genus mastrevirus, the first of its kind found in North America.


April 12, 2015


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Team uses cellulosic biofuels byproduct to increase ethanol yield

October 8, 2013

Team uses a cellulosic biofuels byproduct to increase ethanol yield

Scientists report in Nature Communications that they have engineered yeast to consume acetic acid, a previously unwanted byproduct of the process of converting plant leaves, stems and other tissues into biofuels. The innovation increases ethanol yield from lignocellulosic sources by about 10 percent.


October 8, 2013


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Maps of miscanthus genome offer insight into grass evolution

May 24, 2012

Miscanthus grasses are used in gardens, burned for heat and energy, and converted into liquid fuels. They also belong to a prominent grass family that includes corn, sorghum and sugarcane. Two new, independently produced chromosome maps of Miscanthus sinensis (an ornamental that likely is a parent of Miscanthus giganteus, a biofuels crop) are a first step toward sequencing the M. sinensis genome. The studies reveal how a new plant species with distinctive traits can arise as a result of chromosome duplications and fusions.


May 24, 2012


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Team Overcomes Major Obstacle to Cellulosic Biofuel Production

January 4, 2011

A newly engineered yeast strain can simultaneously consume two types of sugar from plants to produce ethanol, researchers report. The sugars are glucose, a six-carbon sugar that is relatively easy to ferment; and xylose, a five-carbon sugar that has been much more difficult to utilize in ethanol production. The new strain, made by combining, optimizing and adding to earlier advances, reduces or eliminates several major inefficiencies associated with current biofuel production methods.


January 4, 2011


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